purcell

 

Over the last half decade most teams have developed a three season program for transitioning their AHL scoring stars to NHL top-six forwards. It's a fairly simple formula but it's amazingly consistent.

Once a player proves they can score at the AHL level, usually among the top-20 scorers, the team will sign the player to a two-way contract. This second, transition year gives teams a chance to get a better read on a player's development. It can mean anywhere between six to sixty NHL games, but almost always sees the player contribute in both leagues. The final year is the one-way contract year, where the player gets every opportunity to crack the top-six and produce in the NHL.

 

Nashville's Cal O'Reilly bucked this trend slightly, but his contract status shows that he's definitely in Nashville's plans. O'Reilly finished among the top-20 AHL scorers two years in a row - normally the kiss of death for a minor league forward.  But O'Reilly recently signed a two-year deal that seals his NHL fate. The first year is a two-way deal in 2009-10 (his transition year), and a one-way deal (his top-six chance) in 2010-2011.

That recent contract signing will make him a notable exception to Alexandre Giroux, Keith Aucoin, Jason Krog, Darren Haydar, Corey Locke, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, Mathieu Darche, Martin St. Pierre, Brad Moran and Dobber favourite Brett Sterling. That long list of perennial top-20 AHL scorers may see spot NHL duty but will likely never play a full NHL season. In fact, if a player ever has two high scoring AHL seasons, do not draft him...ever. It means too many quality people question his NHL ability.




Player             AHL breakthrough       Transition year                Top-six year

Kris Versteeg      06-07 - 72 pts.        07-08 - 56 games AHL           08-09 - 53 pts. NHL
..........................................................07-08 - 13 games NHL

David Krejci       06-07 - 74 pts.        07-08 - 25 games AHL           08-09 - 73 pts. NHL
..........................................................07-08 - 56 games NHL


Dustin Penner       04-05 - 28 pts.        05-06 - 57 games (84 pts)      06-07 - 29 goals NHL
...........................................................05-06 - 19 games NHL

Patrick OSullivan  05-06 - 93 pts.        06-07 - 41 games AHL           07-08 - 53 pts.  NHL
............................................................06-07 - 44 games NHL

Rich Peverly       06-07 - 68 pts.        07-08 - 45 games AHL           08-09 - 44 pts. NHL
.........................................................07-08 - 33 games NHL   


Jiri Hudler        03-04 - 49 pts.        05-06 - 76 games AHL           07-08 - 42 pts. NHL
........................04-05 - 34 pts.        05-06 -  4 games NHL   



On average there are about two top-20 AHL scorers that eventually hit the NHL top six. They almost always take two years to get there. Here are the candidates this season:


Chris Bourque will be entering his transition year after a solid AHL season. Expect Bourque to play at least a dozen games with the Capitals.

I'm one of the few people who believes Artem Anisimov isn't ready. I can't emphasize this enough. He had a lights out AHL season, but he's 6'3, still needs to fill out and is a gangly skater who will need NHL transition time. New York would be wise to split his time between Hartford and the Rangers. He has only played one NHL game. Big players always need a little more time to develop.

Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy are both strong candidates for a transition year. Gerbe has stated adamantly that he will not go back to the AHL. He had a good year in Portland last season but it's doubtful he'll see a full season in Buffalo because he did little in his 10 NHL games last season. Gerbe will likely spend at least 30 games in Portland unless Buffalo run into a rash of injuries. Kennedy is likely to play the majority of the season in Portland but should see at least 15 games with the big club.

Everything in my soul is screaming against Rob Schremp flourishing in Edmonton, but all the ingredients are there. I know an excellent scout in Edmonton who believes Craig MacTavish simply can't coach young players. This alone gives
Schremp a chance. Schremp is 23, had his AHL breakthrough two years ago and saw time in both leagues last season. He is a dark horse candidate to make some NHL noise this season.

Jiri Tlusty did everything backwards. He's proven himself in the AHL but played almost a full NHL season before that. He's certainly an candidate for an NHL breakthrough but the Leafs may decide to turn this year into a transition year for him.

It wouldn't surprise me if Andrew Ebbett scored 50 points this season. The 26-year-old has developed along the lines of a skilled college player. He's had his big AHL season and showed some promise in 48 games with the Ducks last year.

The favourite for an NHL breakthrough is big LA right wing Ted Purcell. Purcell scored 83 AHL points two years ago, spent 38 games in Manchester and 40 in LA last season. He's the perfect candidate for a 50-point NHL season and is this year's AHL'er most likely to make the jump to the NHL top six.

 


Write comment
Comments (17)add comment

Stuart McDonald said:

Slantman
... Gerbe is not a flight risk to the KHL. I think Gerbe will be one of those players whose numbers skew high to the NHL in the transition year. I still think he'll play at least 15 AHL games which should take him out of the running for the Calder.
September 06, 2009
Votes: +0

Stuart McDonald said:

Slantman
... Hi Philip.

Yes, there are always exceptions if a team has a very solid group of NHL forwards. It took Hudler a couple of years to crack the top six once he made it to the NHL full time. Purcell could find himself auditioning for a top-six spot while playing third line minutes early on and take over if someone falters. And yes, Brown isn't going anywhere so it will be between Purcell and Williams.
September 06, 2009
Votes: +0

Stuart McDonald said:

Slantman
... Top Secret - offensive defensemen usually take longer to develop. They have to be able to produce offensively but play enough defense so they won't be a liability in the NHL. Gragnani is a perfect example. When watching an offensive defenseman in the AHL, it's usually his defense that will determine when he's ready to move up.
September 06, 2009
Votes: +0

philip Kamhi said:

philatangy
... As much as I hope that you are right about Purcell, it is really going to take an injury for him to make it full time into the top six. It could happen with Jason Williams there, but I don't think he beats out Brown and Williams for the top two RW slots.

Kings top six IMHO:
Frolov Kopitar Williams
Smyth Stoll Brown
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

BDog said:

BDog
... So if Gerbe has stated that he won't go back to the AHL and for some reason he's not in the Sabre's line-up to start the season is he a risk to take flight for the $$$ in the KHL?
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

hemlock said:

bletchley
... good piece...i think Schremp has the tools to be in the NHL. There are plenty of guys that can't skate and have done well. He's the exact opposite to Cogliano. he's all wheels no hands...

Gerbe will play this year too. WE all know Connolly will go down with an injury sooner or later and he'll be right in there.
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

Walter Burrows said:

canuckleheadwind
Schremp can't skate While I can't say enough about his offence, his skating holds him back.He will never keep up in Edmonton let alone the new NHL.That's unfortunate for all the poolies who took him with hopes of being a scoring star, as he was in junior. We've seen this before, we'll see it again.
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

Karbinkopy said:

Karbinkopy
Potulny I guess you can also add Potulny's chances in Edmonton as well.
September 05, 2009
Votes: -1

Dobber said:

Dobber
... Put me down for Karsums over Downie (although most disagree). Great dark horse, Karsums, and he fits this profile.
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

Karbinkopy said:

Karbinkopy
Karsums and Moulson Great article Stu. Just wondering about a couple players. Karsums, he wasn't a top 20 player 2 years ago, but he was close enough at 27th. He got his cup of coffee last year with Boston and Tampa and he's one of the ones slated to be looked at for the final top 6 spot in Tampa. Do you think he sticks and get's 50 or will it be Downie that sticks there. Also Matt Moulson for NYI, did he miss his chance? 56 point in 57 games for Manchester and 9 in 22 for the Kings in 07/08. Regressed last year with 47 in 54 in the AHL and 1 in 7 for Kings. Does he get another chance with the Islanders?
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

Paul Dunn said:

pdunn611
Ebbert You have forecasted 40 points for Ebbert, and have noted he will drop to the 3rd line. Do you think he can score 50 points there?
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

bluejays said:

bluejays
... Great article Stu. I'm hoping your right with Purcell. I sure like his potential and once one of the top 6 go down to an injury he'll start to show that 50 pt pace. Followed by 65 pts the following year.

The D would be awesome, maybe next article!
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

Top Secret said:

Les Nordiques
Wonderful Insight Great Article Stuart.

Any thoughts on defensemen, specifically the offensively gifted ones !

Thanks,

Quebec Nordiques
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

Stuart McDonald said:

Slantman
... Fzusher - I noticed Santorelli but I know very little about him - unlike the others. I think he went in the sixth round but that's about it. After the season he had, he certainly fits the profile and I would expect him to enter his transition year.
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

fzusher said:

fzusher
... Ebbett actually had two top scoring AHL seasons, but only one in Anaheim - a kink to this trend to look out for, especially in college players who can sign shorter contracts.

Note on Schremp - He was resigned today to a two-way contract, but the kink is that due to number of AHL games he's played already if he doesn't make the Oilers out of camp he has to clear waivers, so he may yet have his big season and not in Edmonton ...

What about Mike Santorelli, 14th in the AHL last year? Is he en route to career AHLer in your books or did you just forget about him.
September 05, 2009
Votes: +0

doulos said:

doulos
... Great stuff! I've done some research on guys who are a touch slower to enter the NHL and this is a lightly different take on it. I'll be looking a little closer at this! Thanks.
September 04, 2009
Votes: +0

Glen Hoos said:

angelofharlem
... Incredibly insightful. Thanks Stu!
September 04, 2009
Votes: +0
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy